May 15, 2005
The UCLA Bruin women's water polo team concluded its remarkable season by winning the 2005 NCAA National Championship. The Bruins beat third-seeded Stanford, 3-2 in the final game of the tournament at the Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is UCLA's 96th NCAA Championship.
UCLA (33-0) finishes the year with the longest single-season winning streak in NCAA history of 33 games. They are also only the second team to go undefeated, after the USC Trojans went 29-0 in 2004.
This is Adam Krikorian's fourth national championship as head coach of the women's water polo team and his seventh championship as head coach in men's and women's combined. This is the third time that Krikorian has won both the men's and women's water polo title in the same season. Former UCLA coach Guy Baker won both the men's and women's title in the same year twice.
For the Bruins, this is their third NCAA Championship and seventh national championship. The previous NCAA victories were in 2001 and 2003. (Women's water polo wasn't officially recognized by the NCAA until 2001)
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference was well-represented in the tournament. UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Hawaii won the top four places in the tournament and dominated the other non-MPSF opponents.
The game began with tough defense by UCLA. At 4:31 Feher made a save on an open shot for Stanford. Senior Natalie Golda scored the first goal of the game at 4:03 with an outside shot, taking advantage of a six on five opportunity. Stanford had two shots on goal following the UCLA score, but Feher saved both. UCLA scored again at 1:35 with a shot by freshman Brittany Rowe. Golda was ejected at the end of the first quarter, but Feher made a diving save to hold the Cardinal scoreless. At the end of the first, the score was 2-0.
Feher's saves continued to hold Stanford scoreless in the second quarter. At 2:40 Thalia Munro came out of nowhere to make a diving field save and prevent Stanford from scoring. On the next possession, UCLA's Monique Blanchard had an open shot, but Stanford Goalie McColl stopped it. Neither team scored in the second quarter, leaving the score 2-0 at half time. Feher had six saves at the half.
Stanford came out strong in the second half. The Cardinal's Hannah Luber scored the first goal with 5:40 left in the second quarter to pull within a goal of UCLA. McColl made an amazing save with 23 seconds left in the save to keep the Bruins from scoring. Stanford then had an open shot at the end of the quarter, but Thalia Munro batted it away to help the Bruins keep their 2-1 lead.
This was the first time that UCLA had been held scoreless two quarters in a row since the MPSF semifinals of 2004.
In the fourth quarter, Brittany Rowe scored again for UCLA, her second goal of the game, to put the Bruins ahead 3-1. Stanford would not give up, and Katie Hansen scored for Stanford with 4:12 left in the game. UCLA's tough defense was the key to the Bruin victory. Rulon and Munro had steals that prevented Stanford from getting many scoring opportunities.
With 36 seconds left, Molly Cahill received her third ejection, giving Stanford a 6-5 situation in the last possession of the game. Kristina Kunkel stole the ball with 17 seconds and UCLA held on to win 3-2.
Many fans, including men's player of the year Brett Ormsby came out to support the Bruins and did eight claps during timeouts to cheer the team on.
UCLA vs. Stanford 5/15/05 - NCAA Championship Match
Natalie Golda, UCLA (MVP)
Kelly Rulon, UCLA
Iefke Van Belkum, Hawaii
Hannah Luber, Stanford
Thalia Munro, UCLA
Moriah Van Norman, Southern Cal
Brittany Hayes, Southern Cal
Meridith McColl, Stanford (Goalie)
Monike Kruszona, Hawaii
Christina Hewko, Stanford
Lauren Wenger, Southern Cal
Stacia Peterson, Loyola Marymount
Rosanna Tomiuk, Loyola Marymount
Sheetal Narsai, Michigan
Meike De Nooy, Hawaii (Goalie)
Emily Feher, UCLA (Goalie)
Other Tournament Play
USC vs. Hawaii 5/15/05 - NCAA Championship Third Place Match
USC Goals: Eszter Gyori 2, Moriah Van Norman 2, Lauren Wenger 2, Erika Figge, Brittany Hayes, Anna Pardo, Jana Wenger, Erin Wilson
USC Saves: Sarah Mix 11
Hawaii Goals: Anna Sieprath 3, Amy Logan 2, Iefke Van Belkum
Hawaii Saves: Meike De Nooy 3
Loyola Marymount vs. Michigan 5/15/05 - NCAA Championship Fifth Place Match
LMU Goals: Rosanna Tomiuk 3, Katie Hicks 2, Stacia Peterson, Jessica Conner, Sara Hamilton, Cara Colton, Christine Robinson
LMU Saves: Rachel Riddell 13
Michigan Goals: Sheetal Narsai 3, Megan Hausmann, Kristin Hoogenboom
Michigan Saves: Betsey Armstrong 11
Redlands vs. Wagner 5/15/05 - NCAA Championship Seventh Place Match
Redlands Goals: Alie Hower 4, Meghan Rosenberger 2, Corinne Flowers 2, Kelly Stein, Kelly Phillips
Redlands Saves: Caitlin O'Dell 4
Wagner Goals: Hoelck 3, Courtney Crase 2, Jamie Fullen, Monica Lopez, Sara Kramer, Stacey Travous
Wagner Saves: Katie Hauck 7
UCLA Head Coach Adam Krikorian
On UCLA's narrow 3-2 win ... "We beat them 5-4 and 4-3 and now 3-2. I would have never expected this kind of game. I thought we'd score more than three but I also thought they would put in more than two goals. It was a physical game and the refs let us play. It says a lot about this team and its heart and character. We went through this year without any really close games until yesterday against Hawaii and today. It's indescribable."
On UCLA's standout players ... "Brittany Rowe had two goals as a freshman and she came through in the clutch. Natalie was awesome and Thalia showed great leadership. Nat has meant a lot to our team but everyone means something to our team. She deserves this championship because she's not only a great player but she's a great person."
On winning the national title ... "It's such a relief to win. It has been hard to be the favorites all year and the pressure becomes great especially at this time of year. We didn't really play all that well today and yesterday. We were very shaky on offense today but good teams find ways to win. We were 33-0 this year and hardly trailed all season. I think this is the greatest women's water polo team ever. This a team that people won't soon forget. The players here won't appreciate what they did until 10 or 20 years down the road when they look at the stats. This is as good as it gets. Maybe I should retire today. I have been very fortunate to work at a great school with great players and with great support. I'm already looking forward to next year. Not many people can literally say that they love going to their job every day, but I can."
UCLA Senior Center Natalie Golda
On the title game ... "I'm too excited to be sentimental right now. I was stunned in disbelief when we won. I had a lot of pressure on me from a lot of sides this season and to win a championship was amazing. I am so proud of our team. Our team was half brand new this year and made up of a lot of freshmen, but we came together and showed our grit this week."
On her third national championship ... "I was excited to win my third ring. I came in as a freshman and won and now I get to leave with one. We beat Stanford every time too, which is a little ironic. I know how it feels to lose and if we lost this game I would be in a very different mood. We showed what we're all about this week."
UCLA Sophomore Goalkeeper Emily Feher
On the title ... "I was so excited to play in the championship. Our defense was amazing today and the blocks my teammates made in front of me were crazy. I fed on their good play and got so excited. This is the best feeling I've ever had and it feels so good to win with a team that I love, especially after a tough game like we had against Hawaii."
Stanford Head Coach John Tanner
On the national championship game ... "There wasn't a whole lot of momentum or a lot of goals scored. It was just getting a few good possessions in a row. That was the only control that anyone had. I felt we didn't have enough sustained possessions. We had way too many turnovers. We just didn't have enough concerted play in the frontcourt."
On the defensive nature of the match ... "Both schools pride themselves on playing defense and playing team defense. That shows up in five-on-six situations. Combined today we were 1-11, with us 0-for-5 and them 1-for-6. That was the difference in the game."
On Stanford's offense ... "I felt we didn't put many quality shots on them when we had really good scoring opportunities. I thought two or three times, any time we had a good shot, they got a field block. The ball didn't even get through to Emily (Feher) and they were point blank shots. We needed to do better with those, but you give credit to them getting those blocks."
On the difference in the game ... "Overall, UCLA had more quality opportunities and Meredith (McColl) was stellar in keeping us in it. We played good two-meter defense. We narrowed the goal down. I felt like those two goal leads were insurmountable. If it is 7-5 it's no big deal, but 3-1 it just felt like it was a real battle."